Water Science is Becoming More Interdisciplinary

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Mashrekur Rahman, Jonathan Frame , Jimmy Lin, Grey Nearing 


We use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to assess topic diversity at the level of (i) individual articles, (ii) individual journals, and (iii) the whole corpus of research article-abstracts in eighteen water science journals.

Interdisciplinarity within individual articles in water science and hydrology journals is increasing. No such discernible trend exists at the corpus level - topic diversity in the overall hydrology and water science corpus is not increasing.
We assess the interdisciplinarity of 74,479 water science and hydrology research articles at multiple levels (article and corpus) for eighteen water science journals. In doing so, we leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools, and apply unsupervised learning to extract a diverse range of topics and carry our contextual analyses. We observe the strongest rise in interdisciplinarity of articles published in Water Resources Research (WRR), Advances in Water Resources (AWR), and Journal of Contaminant Hydrology (JCH), while rest of the journals demonstrate slightly rising to slightly decreasing trends. At the corpus level, Journal of Hydrometeorology (JHM), Hydrogeology Journal (HGJ), Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS), and Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) show slightly rising trend. We analyze the topics in terms of their trends, and also identify eleven isolated topics (subdisciplines) in this field, some of which have become increasingly isolated over time. These findings contribute to the discourse on interdisciplinarity in water science and hydrology domain.




Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Interdisciplinarity, Water Science


Published: 2021-06-01 14:42

Last Updated: 2021-06-01 20:16

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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